Skip to main content Skip to navigation

COVID-19 and CAHNRS  We at CAHNRS are striving to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Learn more at

2020 Staff and Faculty Awards

Administrative Professional Staff Excellence

Helen Miller

Helen Miller

Helen Miller earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from WSU in 1979. For the next 10 years she worked as a police and fire dispatcher for the City of Pullman. Recognizing that working nights and weekends was hard on family life, she obtained a second degree in Business/Accounting in 1989 and joined the WSU workforce the same year. She spent most of her WSU career in CAHNRS, first in the College’s business office, and then at the Institute of Biological Chemistry. At the IBC she progressed from Fiscal Specialist to Administrative Manager.
The research done at IBC is interesting and important, and one of Helen’s favorite parts of her work is that although she may plan to accomplish certain things in a day, what actually happens is often vastly different! Helen enjoys working with the people of IBC and supporting their exciting work.

Classified Clerical Fiscal Staff Excellence

Tami Nordquist


Tami Nordquist has been a CAHNRS employee since September 8, 2014 in the department of Crop and Soil Sciences. Prior to working at the department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Tami has been employed at various student services departments within her 33+ years at WSU. Tami’s favorite thing working at WSU is interacting with the students.
Tami initially came to Pullman as a transfer student to study interior design. After two years of college at WSU, educational funds ran out and Tami decided to take a break and soon began her employment with WSU as an hourly hire. Fourteen years later Tami interrupted her employment at WSU to become a WSU student and finish her bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Elementary Education.
Tami lives with her husband Eric Nordquist and together have raised two talented sons. In Tami’s spare time she enjoys numerous cooking, crafting, and fine art hobbies.

Classified Technical Staff Excellence

John Steinbock

John Steinbock

John Steinbock, the youngest of 17 children, was born and raised on a farm in Prosser. At age 5, he lost his left eye in a farming accident. It never held him back from honoring the work ethic his parents taught him. He worked part-time for WSU before accepting a full-time position at Othello. John and his wife moved to Othello farm with their 2-week-old son and raised 5 children. The Steinbocks called the farm home for 26 years before buying a home off-station in 2003.
John considers himself fortunate to work with great faculty and makes sure their needs are met.
“WSU has been a career choice for me. I take pride in the farm, as if it were my own. It will always be home to me and my family. I am looking forward to new and exciting things in the future for WSU.”
John has been a dedicated employee of WSU for over 43 years.

Early Career Excellence

Elizabeth Weybright

Elizabeth Weybright

Dr. Elizabeth Weybright is an Assistant Professor in Human Development and Adolescent Extension Specialist in the Youth and Family Unit. Grounded in prevention science and systems theory, her research focuses on the intesection of leisure and health behaviors in adolescence. This includes a) examination of how leisure-related processes may serve as risk or protective factors associated with substance use, b) identification of social-ecological moderators of these associations, and c) use of findings to further inform and evaluate prevention efforts and initiatives targeting adolescent health behavior.

Excellence in Advising

Val Fisher


Valorie Fisher began her advising career as an undergraduate Peer Advisor at WSU working with exploring students., She then served as an advisor in Electrical and Computer Engineering, General Studies, both in Liberal Arts and Sciences, and as the Pre-Vet and Pre-PT/OT advisor in the Health Professions Student Center. In March of 2012, Valorie joined the Department of Animal Sciences as the undergraduate advisor where she’s had the pleasure of working with an amazing group of students and the best advising colleagues (CAHNRS) in the University. She served as both President and Vice President of WSU ACADA from 2012 to 2016. She enjoys working with and mentoring both new and experienced advisors in CAHN RS and the broader WSU community. When she’s not at work Val enjoys downhill skiing, visiting art museums, and spending time with family and friends.

Land Grant Mission Award

Naidu Rayapati

Naidu Rayapati

Naidu Rayapati currently serves as Director, Prosser Research and Extension Center and CAHNRS Assistant Dean for Tri-Cities. He conducts translational research on viral diseases of grapevines and other horticultural crops. He obtained about $9 million to support research involving graduate students and post-doctoral associates. Rayapati extends science-based knowledge into practical applications in vineyards via extension programs, increasing awareness of virus diseases and their management, including the necessity of clean planting materials. Rayapati teaches an undergraduate course “Diseases of Fruit Crops” and provides experiential education opportunities to undergraduate students. He publishes research and extension articles for basic science and agricultural impacts. He regularly gives presentations at scientific and grower meetings. Rayapati received two international awards for his superior contributions in plant pathology and several awards for research posters from the wine industry. Rayapati served in various committees at WSU and professional scientific societies and organized symposia at national and international venues.

Faculty Excellence in Extension

Debra Hansen


Debra Hansen has 21 years of experience in Community and Economic Development in rural Washington. As County Director of WSU Stevens County Extension, she is responsible for procuring local and grant dollars while managing three full-time staff who conduct programming and education in the program areas of 4-H youth development, food systems, agriculture, nutrition, and Master Gardener. She was instrumental in creating Ripple Effects Mapping evaluation, which has emerged as a powerful and adaptable approach to evaluating complex programs, measuring condition change and identifying unintended outcomes. Her local leadership with the Broadband Action Team (BAT) has influenced national legislation and a BAT Field Guide is the design phase to inspire communities across Washington State. Her work adapting the Distributed Conference Model has been successfully used for economic development.
Debra has a bachelor’s degree in advertising from Utah State University and a master’s degree in adult education from Penn State University.

Faculty Excellence in Research

Meijun Zhu

Meijun Zhu

Dr. Zhu earned her BS and MS in Biochemistry at China Agricultural University, and her PhD in Food Microbiology from Iowa State University in 2004. She obtained postdoctoral training in Animal Physiology at University of Wyoming, and was hired as an Assistant Professor in 2008 by the same institute. She joined WSU as an Assistant Professor in 2012, and was promoted to an Associate Professor in 2015. Her research focuses on enteric foodborne pathogens, food safety and gut health. Her program has been well funded by USDA, NIH, and commodity groups. She has been awarded $14.5 million research funds ($12.5 million at WSU), and published more than 200 peer-reviewed papers (~132 at WSU). She is very active in teaching and mentoring graduate and undergraduate students. She has trained and is training 17 PhD and 23 MS students as the major professor/advisor. She is also on graduate committees of 52 graduate students.

R.M. Wade Teaching Excellence

Debra Nelson

Debra Nelson

Dr. Debra Nelson has been a lecturer, Extension Coordinator working with the 4-H science program, and instructor in the Department of Human Development for 25 years. She has taught 14 different courses in the Department of Human Development, teaching over 9000 students. She has previously been an academic advisor in the Department of Human Development, with advising loads reaching over 90 students at times. Deb has worked for a number of years with First Year Focus, coordinating one section of HD 101 each fall semester with that program. She currently serves on WSU’s UCORE committee, and on the Academic Integrity Hearing Board. She has been a Provost’s Featured Faculty member, taught seminar classes in the Tribal Nation Building Leadership program, and participated in the Provost’s Leadership Academy as part of First Year Focus. She is also a Faculty Fellow in the Granger Cobb Institute for Senior Living (College of Business).

Team Interdisciplinary

Forestry Extension Team

Collage of extension forestry team.

Andrew B. Perleberg, M.S. Associate Professor/ Forestry Team Leader. Expertise: fire science, watershed mgt, forest health, wildlife. Previous experience: research forester Weyerhaeuser, Plum Creek Timber, MT Dept. State Lands, US Forest Service, US Peace Corps. Kevin W. Zobrist, M.S. Professor. Expertise: forest management, forest economics, forest health. Previous experience: research scientist U. Washington, author of the book Native Trees of Western Washington. Brendan Whyte, M.S. Forestry Program Coordinator. Expertise: forest ecology, GIS, field sampling, data analysis. Previous experience: Army veteran who se1ved in a Long­-Range Serveillance (LRS) Company, Afghanistan; Field Guide Assoc. South Africa. Todd Murray, M.S. Professor/ ANR Program Unit Director. Expertise: Invasive species, entomology, forest health, pest diagnosis. Work experience: WSU & WSU Extension, executive board Washington State Invasive Species Council. Patrick Shults, M.S. Forestry Program Coordinator. Expertise: forest ecology, environmental education, agroforestry. Previous work experience: research associate Michigan State University, Grand Rapid Parks, Fenner Nature Center. (left since nomination: Noelle Hart, PhD., Kelsey Ketcheson, M.S.)